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—Dartmouth residents chant slain businessman laid to rest
…hundreds pay homage; no one has been charged
By Svetlana Marshall
Dartmouth residents on Friday buried their dead as calls ring out for justice more than a week after businessman, Orin Boston shot dead in his bed by members of the Guyana Police Force.
From the pastor to the politicians at the emotionally-charged funeral service on Friday, the call was singular and unequivocal: “we want justice.”
Held at the Seventh-Day Baptist Church, hundreds flooded the sanctuary wearing red and black, as they paid homage to Boston whom they described as kind and companionate person.
Boston was shot and killed in his Dartmouth home on September 15 by the Special Weapons
and Tactics (SWAT) Unit of the Guyana Police Force during an anti-crime operation, though he posed no immediate threat to them, and in fact had no criminal record. He was a 29-year-old businessman and father of two.
As tributes poured in, in the form of songs and words of solace, Boston’s wife, Fiona Boston, held on tightly to their children as she mourned his passing. At the time of his death, she was laying besides him terrified by the heavily armed police squad that had stormed their home just before daybreak, and opened fire. His mother, who was also held at gunpoint on that fateful day sang praises to God, hopeful that justice one day would be served. His father and siblings were also present.
At the time of the home-going service, the police officer, who shot and killed Boston had not been charged, and many questions surrounding the operation that led to Boston’s death remained unanswered by the Guyana Police Force.
Acting Leader of the Opposition, Roysdale Forde, while repeating the Opposition’s call for an independent, fair and impartial investigation, said the silence of the Commissioner of Police (ag) Nigel Hoppie is deafening. MP Forde was among A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Members of Parliament present at the funeral.
“It is time for the Commissioner of Police to come before this family, the villagers and this nation and explain to the wife, and these children who are now without a husband, father, son and brother…who ordered this senseless act, who ordered this senseless killing, who ordered them to go into Boston’s home and kill him…” MP Forde said.
Commissioner Hoppie, during a press conference on the day of shooting, had assured that a thorough investigation would be done, however, he was unable to answer critical questions surrounding the anti-crime operation which ended on a deadly note.
Warning that with the passing hours, the people’s confidence in the Guyana Police Force is irretrievably eroding, the Opposition Leader (ag) said one thing is certain – Boston was killed by the State.
“Let us not be cautious, uncertain or hesitant to say that Mr. Orin Boston was killed by the State of Guyana; he was killed by the State of Guyana; he was killed by the State of Guyana,” MP Forde said.
He added: “The death and murder of Mr. Orin Boston at the hands of officers of the Guyana Police Force is strikingly reminiscent of previous killings that disturbed this society, the killings of hundreds of young African Guyanese boys and men.”
He contended that since the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government took office on August 2020, the Police Force and its officers have been functioning as instruments of oppression, repression and subjugation.
“Whilst we mourn, cry and are pained at the death of Orin we remember, the death and pain of the families of Cecil Sampat, Sherwin Filley and Peter Headley who were all killed by officers of the Guyana Police Force, over the last year.
We mourn and remember the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and cousins who were killed at the hands of the Guyana Police Force and the PPP/C,” the Opposition Leader (ag) said. He said the people of Guyana demand justice. “We must get justice! These answers must lead to a result, and there must be no cover up, none whatsoever. Regrettably, the Commissioner of Police will never provide these answers to these questions, questions that all of us have. Regrettably, neither would any Government official including the installed President provide you with any answers. The answers which we seek must be fought for; they must be found for, they will not be given to you on a platter,” the MP said.
He urged the residents of Dartmouth to protect their freedom and rights. “A free people cannot be a people, who are not vigilant, bold and assertive. The cause and plague of extra-judicial killing is essentially undemocratic, authoritarian and unconstitutional. We have to ensure that extra-judicial killings are brought to an end, and a swift and definite end as these killings revealed…an alarming relationship and correlation between race, poverty and social status,” he said.
The acting Opposition Leader was accompanied by Opposition Chief Whip, Christopher Jones; Region Two Opposition Member of Parliament, Shurwayne Holder; and MP Nima Flue-Bess.
EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLING & INJUSTICES
Lincoln Lewis – the General Secretary of the Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC) – who was also present, condemned the killing of Boston, as he dubbed it another extrajudicial killing under the PPP/C Government.
“The killing of Orin Boston, at the hands of rogue police officer(s) from the SWAT team, is a painful reminder that extrajudicial killings have not only returned, but that we the people cannot allow this death as others to be statistics, a blip in our history,” Lewis said.
Noting that Boston’s death should be of concern to all Guyanese, the Trade Unionist said it is an indication that Guyanese are living in “troubling times,” and the powers that be should be told that “enough is enough.”
Echoing the words of Bob Marley, Lewis implored the residents of Dartmouth and by extension the rest of Guyana to stand up for their rights.
“Guyana is a nation of laws and we should push back against those who donned the uniform of the state, and carry the weapons of the state, to act in a barbaric and lawless manner. The death of Orin Boston must stir within us the passion and determination we carry in our bowels, inherited from our forebears, for justice and fair play. We hold our future in our hands,” Lewis said.
He added: “Should we send any signal of weakness to those who trample or desire to trample on our Rights and the Rule of Law, then we become accomplices of the lawlessness and risk endangering our lives and those of our loved ones. We must also develop within us the refusal to trust, in matters like these, officials of the state unless they prove themselves deserving of our trust. Let’s not forget the admonition of our forebears- ‘promise is a comfort to a fool.’”
The Trade Unionist said there can be no peace in this land unless every single citizen enjoys fundamental human rights, dignity and equality as enshrined in the Constitution of Guyana, international laws, and conventions.
He said while citizens are tired of the senseless killings, hate, and division, they must never be tire to fight back against the injustices. “And even as we seek legal justice to assuage the community and all Guyanese, who in some form or fashion stand indicted, and feel the pain of this young man’s death and the resultant consequences, we must not ignore the importance of socioeconomic and political justice as a means of not only forging peace, but making all Guyanese recognise that where one is deprived, marginalised, demonised, de-humanised, victimised, is subjected to wanton killing and justice is not served, all are denied,” the GTUC General-Secretary urged.
Pastor of the Dartmouth Seventh Day Baptist Church, Ewart Ceasar was among residents who also condemned the killing of Boston. “We condemn this act, and we are believing God for justice, and that their hearts will be comforted,” Pastor Caesar said.
One of Boston’s former teachers, who taught him at the 8th of May Secondary School, said Boston stood up for his friends. “Let us not let this go down as just another killing because he was a friend to many, even though he wasn’t the one causing the trouble, he stood for you, and so I stand here this afternoon asking us, to stand for him. Let us see that he gets justice,” she urged.
Another elderly resident hinted that the Police Force and the Government may never reveal the truth about the deadly operation out of fear that they may be removed from Office, but he assured that “with God nothing goes unpaid.”